Could you tell us more about yourself?
I’m Alexandra Ramirez, but everyone calls me Alex! I’m a multidisciplinary creative working as a freelance illustrator and senior graphic designer/art director. Simply said, I just make visual magic!
My role is to bring ideas to life, develop projects and make things look cool! I also run a print shop with my artwork, where I produce and frame them myself. I collaborate with galleries and producers for shows and also create visual identities and design assets for private and corporate clients. In my creative journey, illustration and design are inseparable.
What’s something people would never guess about you?
I’m very, very flexible! I was a dancer and a gymnast as a kid for some seven years! Later, I really wanted to be a professional tennis player for some time, but due to heart surgery, the doctors forbade me from pursuing an athletic career. However, to this day, I’m still an avid sports lover. I do a lot of yoga, Muay Thai, swimming, roller skating, cycling, and yeah, I still play tennis; I just need to be a little careful!
Who did you want to be as a kid?
Besides sports, all I have ever wanted was to draw! I saw myself as a strong and creative persona. And here I am now, 32 years later, still drawing, either scribbling in the sketchbook, on the iPad, or with Illustrator or painting canvases and murals. It just needed to be done, and it turned out to be my true calling.
What’s your biggest driver?
I guess that would be my headspace. I am very careful and filter out what I let inside my mind and around myself. Ultimately this births the right ideas, and once I have this little something at the back of my brain, nothing can stop me until I get it out in the right shapes and colours. I love being around people and watching them & their style (it’s an artist’s thing, I swear!), exploring cities, eating interesting new food, and just living my best life! I love electronic and indie, and there’s always some background music going on; it’s an essential part of my work routine. I might do a weird little dance in the middle of the day to boost the happy hormones!
Can you share a highlight in your career?
Oh, I have a couple! When BBH invited me to join the Unsigned exhibition with my illustrations, it was mental! For last year’s IWD, I had my prints hung at the Adidas Flagship on Oxford Str (thank you, Creative Debuts!). I’ve also exhibited with them at the Spotify HQ, but it was during the pandemic, so unfortunately, not many people saw it. I was taking part in The London Artisan makers market at Truman’s brewery, and Conde Nast Traveller featured it with my illustration on top of the article. I was blown away!
While I have mostly been freelancing for most of my career, I recently jumped out of the KFC bucket. I was employed permanently as a Senior Designer, and I was doing a full in-house agency job covering the needs of all departments by myself.
Who are the women that have inspired you the most?
I love the work of Jessica Walsh, Kelly Anna and Veronica Fuerte. All three of them embody the ultimate boss babe, nailing a creative career at the very top. They’re bold, colourful, loud, super talented, and their work speaks volumes. I just can’t get enough!
What is good about being a woman in the creative industry?
We open a new perspective in design thinking which is crucial for any cardinal progress in any business. We introduce new ideas, encourage active listening and in-depth thorough communication. We diversify the workplace and amplify the voices of underrepresented communities. We are an important part of the market and can often perform better holistic targeting of consumer needs. Of course I am not generalising, rather simply speaking of certain cases. All this, however, plays a huge role in the long run for any business.
Have you faced any challenges?
I have to say I faced a lot of discrimination in the beginning. Firstly, being a disabled person who sometimes doesn’t hear very well, I had times when I was perceived as not capable enough.
Later, I experienced that pushy “game of power” in a male-dominated team. My decisions and solutions have been ignored until a male has introduced them, and I’ve been “allowed” to voice my concerns on business matters. I have been “welcomed” with a condescending approach just for being the only woman on the team & last to speak at meetings “before we wrap things up”. And let’s not forget the gender pay gap… If it doesn’t come to performance and results, it is discrimination.
What change in the creative industry would you like to see?
Realistic turnarounds are something many designers struggle with. We are often rushed without considering what damage burnout can do to our mental health. While we appreciate a challenge and can actually get inspired by it, the constant sprint for delivering on time while being requested for endless changes can only make us look for a better workplace.
Many clients disrespect our boundaries and think we just click a couple of things and it’s cool. I’d like to see a more sustainable approach towards design production. Design is not an immediate solution. It’s a process, a task to solve a problem and in its essence and functionality, it’s ever-evolving. At the end of the day, we add value to the business and put it in front of the eyes of the world.
For beginners, the industry should appreciate talent, especially when there’s proof of it (such as a portfolio), instead of demanding ‘X’ years of experience. I believe we’ll all benefit from dropping the endless interview rounds (I’ve had a 7 round interview once!) and putting a full stop to demanding free work on “fake” assignments. A lot of businesses then misuse it for their benefit, and honestly, it’s a complete waste of time. Skills should be visible on someone’s resume and portfolio and how they’ve presented it.
What advice would you give your younger self starting out in the creative industry?
Just go for it! Listen to your heart and follow your dreams no matter what! You’ll learn a lot from people around you, and it’s not scary to approach and ask for help from those you admire and are already where you see yourself in the future. Having a mentor is one of the best things while you’re still too green and confused. Always do self-initiated projects because this type of exploration will take you very, very far! Opportunities jump out of nowhere, and you never know who’s actually following your creative journey. Put yourself out there and be persistent. Keep showing up. Keep making stuff. Connect with your community & build meaningful connections. Don’t be scared to change your mind, your style, or your career path. Life is too short to walk it in the wrong shoes.